narrator

Narrator 2.0.1 released

Narrator version 2.0.1 is now available. This release fixes one important bug, that prevented the rate and pitch controls from working properly in some situations.

I've also put together a new screencast on Narrator, showing what was discussed in my previous blog post: using Narrator to read a web interview in multiple voices, including exporting it to iTunes.

Interestingly, I used Narrator to narrate the Narrator screencast... very meta of me. :)

Check it out:

Movie screenshot

Download Narrator now!

Use Narrator to read interviews

My German localizer, Ulf Dunkel of DSD.net, recently suggested an excellent use for Dejal Narrator. The app was designed with reading out stories using multiple voices in mind, but it's certainly not limited to that. Any text that includes multiple people is a good candidate.

One common case when people are conversing is a web interview. The format is pretty standard: each paragraph represents something one of the participants said, and is prefixed with their name or initials. Narrator's Casting Assistant feature recognizes this format, making it very easy to mark up the text.

When you find an interview you'd prefer to listen to, rather than read — perhaps just so you can rest your eyes, or maybe you want to listen to it on an iPod — you can easily use Narrator to read it out, with different voices for each of of the participants.

Here's how:

  1. Select the interview text in the web browser (e.g. this Macworld interview on iPhone gaming, or this Phorum interview).
  2. Choose Services ▶ Narrator ▶ New Document with Selection from the web browser's application menu.
  3. In Narrator, edit the names at the start of paragraphs, if necessary, to make them consistent (sometimes the first usage is a longer name).
  4. Choose Director ▶ Casting Assistant... (or click the toolbar button).
  5. Click Cast to have Narrator add Characters for the participants.
  6. Change the Actors' voice attributes, if desired.

That's it! You can then export to iTunes if desired, or listen directly in Narrator. A great way to enjoy an interview while doing other activities.

Narrator 2.0 released

Narrator version 2.0 is now in general release!

Use Narrator to read out a play or story with different voices for each of the parts. It uses speech synthesis to read out marked passages using specified voice attributes. You can choose different voices, rates, pitches, inflections, and volumes for each character in the story. The words are highlighted on-screen, and there are also a couple of silent read-along options for stage directions, or for you to read out your own parts.

Narrator 2 is a major upgrade, a complete rewrite. It requires Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" as it uses the latest technologies. Version 1.1.4 will remain available for people who aren't ready for Leopard.

This upgrade includes a much-requested feature: the ability to export the speech to an AAC sound file, or export directly to iTunes. This is great for listening to stories on an iPod or iPhone, or directly in iTunes. Make your own audiobooks! The tracks can be bookmarkable, too, keeping track of where you're up to when listening to them.

Narrator 2 also has several other enhancements, including preferences to substitute words to fine-tune the pronunciation, the ability to organize your work into multiple chapters, a fancy new look consistent with other Leopard apps, Spotlight and Quick Look support, various text features like tables, links, lists, spelling and grammar checking, and more. It is also localized for English, German and French, and is a Universal Binary, to run natively on Intel and PowerPC machines. See the release notes for details of the enhancements in this version.

This is a paid upgrade (just $9) for existing customers. But I'm offering a generous free upgrade period: everyone who purchased Narrator since October 1, 2007 is eligible for a free upgrade. If you qualify, just contact me to get your upgrade license.

You can see Narrator in action without even downloading it: check out this video, if you haven't seen it before:

Movie screenshot

Here's a feature graphic for Narrator 2.0, as currently seen on the Dejal home page:

Download Narrator 2 now!

Narrator 2.0b5 released

Narrator 2.0b5 is now available.

Well, remember how I talked about the only reason for another beta would be important bugs? It turns out that the previous beta had a doozy: the help book wasn't included correctly! Oops. Apparently a last-minute change to it broke it.

So, here's another beta, that fixes that, plus fixes an issue opening the Welcome document for non-English localizations.

Sorry for the hassle, if you downloaded 2.0b4! You can download Narrator again to fix those issues. (Of course, if you don't care about the help book, you could skip this beta release.)

As always, I welcome feedback, if you find any other issues.

Narrator 2.0b4 released

Narrator version 2.0b4 is now available. Unless any important bugs come up, I expect this to be the last beta release of version 2.0.

This update is mainly about some final tidying up before the general release. One big change is that the user guide is now available using Apple Help, so you can read about Narrator without needing to use a web browser. I've long resisted Apple Help, and still don't particularly like it, but I think it's important to embrace the standards. People expect Apple Help, so now I provide it. You can read the same help online via the new Support page, too, if you prefer. Many thanks to my German localizer, Ulf Dunkel, for his help in converting and updating the old User Guide as Apple Help.

Another change in this beta is the addition of an extra page to the Narrator Assistant, that appears after entering the license details. It includes buttons to post reviews to VersionTracker, MacUpdate and iusethis. These were also added to the Help menu, along with the Narrator Voice Talent page (where you can get more voices). The product listing sites thing is an experiment, to see if that helps spread the word about Narrator. Reviews on these sites really does help encourage others to try the app, so I very much appreciate them. If you like Narrator, please tell others on such sites, your own blog, friends, family, user groups, etc. And of course if there's something you don't like, or you have ideas for improvements, I'm always interested — head over to the Narrator Forum.

Sometimes people go through the entire trial period and never get around to buying. Now, Narrator offers TrialPay as an option for such people, so they can get Narrator at no cost by trying or buying a third-party service, that they would probably use anyway. You don't have to wait for the end of the trial, though; you can choose this at any time via the Dejal site.

You may also notice that the Narrator product pages have also been updated with more descriptive text and images, plus a new Narrator Support page has been added. It summarizes all of the support resources in one place, so should be quite helpful. I'll revise other products' pages to include a Support page as I update them.

Download Narrator now!

ScreenFlow: the iTunes of Screencasting

Fraser Speirs just posted a great summary of ScreenFlow, a new Leopard-only screencast recording application:

“Tweak it afterwards” makes it sound lightweight. It’s not. In other screen recording software, such as Snapz Pro X, you define a region of the screen to be recorded and if a dialog pops up somewhere you didn’t expect, you start all over again. ScreenFlow does away with all that: you record the entire screen, and zoom in or crop the video later. That alone justifies the application for me. You can also add highlights such as cursor circles, click targets and sounds and keystroke overlays - all automatically and all after the fact.

I totally agree. I've been thinking about adding some screencasts to the Dejal site for a while, but it looked like a lot of work with the previous tools. When I saw ScreenFlow, I saw a product that would make it much easier.

It'll take me a while to get around to adding screencasts — I'll probably add them after major upgrades of the various apps. But I've just added my first one, a very simple recording of listening to the Welcome document that comes with Dejal Narrator. This movie doesn't show off much of ScreenFlow's features, though the icon zoom at the end was a trivial example of what can be done very easily in ScreenFlow:

Movie screenshot

Sending flowers for Valentine's Day? Get Narrator free!

Valentine's Day is coming up this week. If you plan to send flowers to your sweetheart, you can do so via FTD.com, save 10% on your flower delivery order, and get a free Household license for Dejal Narrator, the fun speech synthesis app to read stories in multiple voices!

Simply visit the Dejal TrialPay store and choose FTD Flowers, or Grower Flowers, or one of the many other options available there if you prefer, and you'll not only get quality flowers delivered by a popular delivery company, you'll get Narrator at no extra cost — a $24 value!

How TrialPay works:

To take advantage of this deal, click this button to begin:

Please help me evaluate this by contacting me if you have any thoughts on TrialPay — whether you choose to use it or not.

If you're a developer and want to find out how TrialPay can help you, you can find out more information on the TrialPay merchant site.

Narrator 2.0b3 released

Narrator version 2.0b3 is now available.

This beta update has a few more tweaks... getting closer to the general release!

  • Reduced the font size of the description field, to allow seeing more text.
  • Added description field values to the welcome document.
  • Now removes the show/hide toolbar button in the Preferences window, as per Apple's Human Interface Guidelines.
  • Changed the trial reminders to count downwards instead of upwards.
  • Added a nifty trial reminder in the window titlebar.
  • Removed the random daily license reminders; redundant now that the window title has a reminder.
  • Fixed a bug were automatic reading might not occur if the document takes too long to load.
  • Changed the way the version and release numbers are updated internally.
  • Added French localization, thanks to Philippe Bonnaure.

Download now!

Get Narrator for free via TrialPay

[TrialPay]I have added a new payment option to the Dejal Store: TrialPay.

This is an interesting concept. Instead of directly buying one of my products, you try or buy one of the many products offered via the TrialPay service, and get my product for free as part of the bargain. They have many products available, including ones you'd likely buy anyway, such as eBay, Blockbuster, Stamps.com, and hundreds of others.

In fact, with Valentine's Day coming up, now's a perfect time to use FTD.com for flowers and get Narrator as a free bonus!

How TrialPay works:

Initially I am only offering a Household license for Narrator via TrialPay. Based on my experience with how well it works, and feedback from my customers, I may extend it to all of my products. But for now, you can get Narrator for any number of people in your home for free — a $24 value!

To take advantage of this deal, click this button to begin:

Please help me evaluate this by contacting me if you have any thoughts on TrialPay - whether you choose to use it or not.

If you're a developer and want to find out how TrialPay can help you, you can find out more information on the TrialPay merchant site.

Narrator 2.0b2 released

Narrator version 2.0b2 is now available.

This beta release has a few important fixes, plus some new features:

  • Added preferences to re-open the documents that were open last time you quit, and to create a new document if nothing else opened.
  • Fixed a bug with the new Dictionary preferences page, where changes were not remembered.
  • Fixed a bug when speaking if a blank Dictionary replacement text was specified.
  • Fixed a bug with saving documents, where it'd still be marked as having changed after a save.
  • Fixed a couple of bugs with deleting Chapters or Characters, that would prevent saving the document thereafter.
  • Improved the button titles for the Chapter and Character deletion alerts.
  • Added German localization, thanks to Ulf Dunkel.

It's a recommended update for everyone on 2.0b1. Download now!

I don't have any further issues to fix for the 2.0 release. So please try this and let me know if you find any further bugs, or have any suggestions for tweaks or new feature ideas. Feel free to post to the Narrator Forum or contact me privately.

Narrator 2.0b1 release

Narrator version 2 is now in public beta release!

Narrator 2 is a major upgrade, a complete rewrite. It requires Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" as it uses the latest technologies. Version 1.1.4 will remain available for people who aren't ready for Leopard.

This upgrade includes a much-requested feature: the ability to export the speech to an AAC sound file, or export directly to iTunes. This is great for listening to stories on an iPod or iPhone, or directly in iTunes. Make your own audiobooks! The tracks can be bookmarkable, too, keeping track of where you're up to when listening to them.

Narrator 2 also has several other enhancements, including preferences to substitute words to fine-tune the pronunciation, the ability to organize your work into multiple chapters, a fancy new look consistent with other Leopard apps, various text features like tables, links, lists, spelling and grammar checking, and more. See the release notes for details.

For new customers, the license prices will be going up about $5 after the beta cycle -- well worth it with the added features. But during the beta testing, you can buy at the version 1 prices.

This is a paid upgrade (just $9) for existing customers. But I'm offering a generous free upgrade period: everyone who purchased Narrator since October 1, 2007 is eligible for a free upgrade. If you qualify, just contact me to get your upgrade license.

Here's a feature graphic for Narrator 2.0b1, as seen in rotation (with ones for Simon and Time Out currently) on the Dejal home page:

Download Narrator 2 now!

A sneak peek of Narrator 2

Narrator version 2 is coming... a long time coming. It's been over four years since the last update, which is way too long.

Version 2 is a major upgrade, a complete rewrite. It requires Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" as it uses the latest technologies. Version 1.1.4 will remain available for people who aren't ready for Leopard.

At present it is incomplete, and in private alpha testing, but a public beta should be available in January, with a general release a little later.

The features are still being worked on, but here's a sneak peek at a couple of them.

Firstly, there's a new Character (voice) marker in the text, instead of using text colors:

Marker

Secondly, the Character configuration area is now in the window sidebar, and has a description of the Character and individual reset buttons for each of the voice sliders:

Detail area

This will be a paid upgrade (the price to be determined, but probably not much). But I'll offer a generous free upgrade period: everyone who purchased Narrator since October 1, 2007 will be eligible for a free upgrade. So, of course, if you purchase Narrator now, you will qualify for a version 2 license at no further cost -- and will likely save money, as I'm also thinking of increasing the price a little.

If you've purchased Narrator (or are about to), feel free to contact me to get access to the alpha release.

Stay tuned for more information about this new version.

Dejal and Leopard

LeopardAll the cool kids are doing it, so it must be my turn....

Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" is available tomorrow. It's a great update, that I've mostly enjoyed using for the past few months, so I highly recommend it to everyone. But an important consideration is always: will my existing software run on the new OS version? So here's a summary of the Leopard compatibility status of Dejal products, as far as I'm aware.

I should point out that this is based on a recent seed (pre-release version): Mac developers don't get the final version of Leopard any sooner than you do... and in fact get it later if they wait for the copy Apple sends as part of the Apple Developer Connection membership. There's been a bit of an uproar about that, but it was the same with Tiger, and will probably be the same again with the next big cat. Such is life.

Simon: My website and server monitoring tool runs fine under Leopard. It has been updated to use Leopard's window style for the Monitor window when running under 10.5, or the custom window style under 10.4 or 10.3.9. I plan on making several more Leopard improvements in a future version.

Time Out: Version 1.5 of this break reminder app was released not long ago, which added Leopard compatibility. It has no known issues with 10.5. Work on version 2 is underway (though currently paused); you can expect that in Q1 2008. It will require a minimum of 10.5, as it leverages several Leopard technologies.

Caboodle: This handy snippet-keeper app is also Leopard-ready as of the current release, version 1.1.2. I have big plans for Caboodle over the coming year, once I've done the other updates.

Narrator: My fun speech synthesis app hasn't been updated for a number of years, but appears to run okay under Leopard. I am currently working on a long-overdue new version of it -- actually a complete rewrite. The new version requires a minimum of Leopard. Watch the Dejal blog for more information about that as it progresses.

BlogAssist: This useful HTML markup tool is Leopard-ready as of the current release, version 2.1.1. It will also see some improvements in 2008, using technology being developed for Time Out.

Macfilink: My affiliate link cloaking app hasn't had an update for Leopard yet, but it seems to work okay. I haven't decided what to do for its next update, but it's possible I'll replace the data storage with Core Data for the Leopard update. It's the lowest priority, as this app does one job and does it very well as-is, so it doesn't need much tinkering.

So there you go. I hope you enjoy Leopard as much as I do. Please let me know if you discover any compatibility issues, but as far as Dejal products are concerned, you should be good to go!

MacSanta says Happy Holidays

There have been a lot of promotions involving Mac software recently - MacZOT, MyDreamApp, MacHeist, MacAppADay, etc. Each with different approaches, of creating new apps, selling discounted apps, or giving them away. But the latest is MacSanta, celebrating the festive season with 20% discounts on participating Mac software. A great thing about this promotion is that it is open to everyone - all developers and all users.

Dejal is participating in MacSanta, offering discounts of 20% or more on all products. What's more, I'm offering these discounts through the end of the year!

Just visit the Dejal Store before the end of the year to take advantage of these great prices!

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